The Koestler Trust is the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. They have been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 50 years. Their awards scheme receives over 8,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work for achievement and transform their lives. Their national exhibition attracts 20,000 visitors – showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings. The 2017 exhibition is being curated by the sculptor Anthony Gormley, creator of the iconic Angel of the North and will be officially opened by the parliamentary under-secretary for Justice Sam Gyimah MP on the 20th September 2017.

What is the need?

The evaluation is intended to answer the question “Do people who engage with the Koestler Trust’s Award Scheme have improved behaviour as compared to prisoners not engaging in the Arts?”

What are we doing?

We will be conducting a survey of prisoners involved in the Award Scheme, those not involved in the scheme but engaged in arts activities and those not involved in the arts. We will also be undertaking interviews with prisoners involved in the scheme and prison staff.

What will be the outcomes?

Our aim is to capture “The impact inside”, i.e. what the Award Scheme and the Arts more generally can offer could be valuable as an end in themselves; such as improving in-custody behaviour, reducing the risk of harm to staff and improving wellbeing and reducing the risk of self-harm. In a prison estate where there are increasing numbers of incidents of violence towards staff and escalating self-harm it is pertinent to look at any positive role of the Arts, and in particular the Koestler Trust Award Scheme, can play in addressing these issues.

What are the timescales?

A final evaluation report was submitted in March 2018.

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